17 March 2007

The survival genius of Eskimos and jews

New York Jewish pioneer video artist Norman Cohn, a grandson of Orthodox New York Jews, believes that Jews and Eskimos are the longest tribal survivors in history.

“How could people last for 4,000 years in the most inhospitable climate on earth if they weren’t geniuses?” he demanded rhetorically at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival, where “The Journals of Knud Rasmussen,” a film he co-directed with Zacharias Kunuk, was the opening attraction.

“The Inuit figured out how to turn bones into tools, how to turn skin into warm clothing, how to feed their families for generations. And when things go wrong in that environment, you’d better laugh, because what [else] are you going to do?” (Cohn professes not to see a similarity between Inuit and Jewish humor, but a Jewish sage advises, “When you’re hungry, sing; when you’re hurt, laugh.”)

His work with two Inuit video "explorers," and their film, focuses on the loss of culture, of being taught that their culture was bad, and of being forbidden to practice their religion and transmit traditions.

We can relate to that.

Read more here .

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